Wisdom heard today from an overlanding old-timer about where to start

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Salt

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An overlanding old-timer changed my thinking today on getting started. Thought you might find his ideas helpful...

He said the first thing that I ought to do after acquiring a rig, before I buy anything for it, is to think like AN ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKER:

A. Determine the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) for the vehicle.

B. Go to a truck scale and weigh the vehicle.

C. Determine how much more weight I can safely add by subtracting B from A (of course, there is some wiggle room in that figure).

D. Build a spreadsheet: keep track of the actual weight of every object I add to the vehicle and how much available weight remains.

F. Learn the weight of every object that I plan to add and decide whether the value of the item justifies the added weight.

I'm an overland newbie, but I'm also an ultralight backpacker, so the mindset isn't new to me. I just never thought to apply this concept to a truck.

I don't know. What do you think? Does this approach make sense?
 
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zgfiredude

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Absolutely makes sense! I came from the Adventure Motorcycle world, and similar to the ultralight backpacking realm.....keep those skills! It's easy to haul around a bunch of stuff that you just don't need.

Get started simply. See when a NEED identifies itself, and then think about IF it needs to be addressed.
 

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That is how I started. I came from a backpacking, mountaineering ,climbing, background. After I got tired of camping small I went large, 3/4 ton long bed. My truck is rigged for for how I overland. I like my life closer to the bone than most, so I don't have a RTT, Track pads, privacy thing, my awning is a tarp not a pull out. Everything is a trade off.
 
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Longshot270

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I didn’t come from backpacking, but the logic makes sense. I just got tired of how long it took to set up and break down camp. I also had some close calls with unexpected levels of high tides and seeing people that couldn’t pick up and go lose a lot of expensive gear.
 
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well, some folk like to have tight control over things and will lean toward the anal retentive side of life and they feel safety and comfort from that. which is good, because the whole idea of this is to enjoy yourself and if that process is part of extracting enjoyment, then yeah...go weigh everything and make spreadsheets.

i went into the navy at 17 and at 18, i was stationed at groton, ct and would take my subaru Brat up into the new england states and just tent camp wherever. didnt plan anything and certainly didnt weigh anything. didnt even know what a spreadsheet was at that time. 40 years later and the wife and i go all over with no planning, no weighing, no spreadsheets...nothing. we have a lot of fun and have had ZERO problems as a result of not implementing these actions.

i dont understand "thinking like an ultralight backpacker" when i'm not ultralight backpacking, but rather "vehicle camping". my tundra can carry a lot more than i can, so that is why i load the hell out of it. i carry 2 jerry cans of water in the truck (approx 90 pounds total weight) i wouldnt strap 2 jerry cans of water to my backpack and go hike up the side of a mountain with that, so dont really see the correlation.

as a newbie, its great that you are thinking ahead and are willing to take advice...saves time and money not reinventing the wheel sometimes, but i would say from personal experience that you can easily go on trips and have fun and still be plenty safe and successful without going thru all of that. but, if you feel better by doing that and will feel more comfortable, then by all means it makes perfect sense. maybe start off weighing and doing spreadsheets and once you get more experience and your comfort level increases, you may no longer feel you need to do that. other than breaking laws, there really isnt a right or wrong way of doing this hobby...
 

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An overlanding old-timer changed my thinking today on getting started. Thought you might find his ideas helpful...

He said the first thing that I ought to do after acquiring a rig, before I buy anything for it, is to think like AN ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKER:

A. Determine the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) for the vehicle.

B. Go to a truck scale and weigh the vehicle.

C. Determine how much more weight I can safely add by subtracting B from A (of course, there is some wiggle room in that figure).

D. Build a spreadsheet: keep track of the actual weight of every object I add to the vehicle and how much available weight remains.

F. Learn the weight of every object that I plan to add and decide whether the value of the item justifies the added weight.

I'm an overland newbie, but I'm also an ultralight backpacker, so the mindset isn't new to me. I just never thought to apply this concept to a truck.

I don't know. What do you think? Does this approach make sense?
Yes, that's the common approach.
 
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Alanymarce

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The goal should (could?) be to end up with the vehicle lighter than it was before preparing to go wandering, at least before adding people and consumables (food, fuel, water...).

On our LC80 and our Montero we took out the 2nd and 3rd row of seats, reducing mass (weight) by around 100 kg before adding anything. These vehicles had/have roof racks which put on 30 kg or so, and refrigerators which added 20 kg (ARB) or 17 kg (Dometic), plus storage drawers which probably added around another 30 kg, and the beds added another 20 kg or so, so now we were back to original weight. We then went over this with awnings (a lateral on the LC80, a lateral and a rear awning on the Montero), so we were now over the starting mass by around 10-15 kg.

Now we add people (2), fuel, water, food, clothing, boots, cameras, laptop, etc., etc., adding around 300 kg in all. In areas where we needed additional reserve fuel then this added more weight, and for some of the time we had a second spare wheel so these added weight as well. So for these vehicles we were nearing the GVM (GVWR).

Now... we are currently on the road in a JK, and have taken the thinking further:

First we took out the rear seats, weighing about 80 kg (didn't weigh them however this is what I found online). Weight added has been the bed frame and mattress (2x4 lumber, plywood bed, inflatable mattress), some webbing supports, and a fire extinguisher. I'm sure that the vehicle now weighs less than it did when we started:

- No extra spare wheel - based on experience over the last 140,000 km.

- No reserve fuel tanks - the range is about 700 km, based on experience on the trip so far, and this is enough to get us everywhere we want to go.

- No awning(s) - although it was/is nice to have them on the other vehicles, we really used them infrequently. For sunshade they're great but on this trip we don't expect hot weather so there's less value.

- No roof rack - without the extra spare wheel and reserve fuel cans and with no need for awnings we don't need one.

So, overall the JK is less heavy than it was when we bought it, and well within GVM (GVWR) with us and the consumables loaded.
 
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North American Sojourner

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I'm a backpacker. I tear off the cover on a book of matches to save weight. LOL
Seems like good advice tho. My opinion is this.
Leaving everything behind and exploring is fun and should be stress free. Saving a few pounds here and there is a good idea I guess, but in the long run is it worth the stress? For me, no.
You really don't want to overload your car or truck either.
Common sense rules the day.
Zim
 

leeloo

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well, some folk like to have tight control over things and will lean toward the anal retentive side of life and they feel safety and comfort from that. which is good, because the whole idea of this is to enjoy yourself and if that process is part of extracting enjoyment, then yeah...go weigh everything and make spreadsheets.

i went into the navy at 17 and at 18, i was stationed at groton, ct and would take my subaru Brat up into the new england states and just tent camp wherever. didnt plan anything and certainly didnt weigh anything. didnt even know what a spreadsheet was at that time. 40 years later and the wife and i go all over with no planning, no weighing, no spreadsheets...nothing. we have a lot of fun and have had ZERO problems as a result of not implementing these actions.

i dont understand "thinking like an ultralight backpacker" when i'm not ultralight backpacking, but rather "vehicle camping". my tundra can carry a lot more than i can, so that is why i load the hell out of it. i carry 2 jerry cans of water in the truck (approx 90 pounds total weight) i wouldnt strap 2 jerry cans of water to my backpack and go hike up the side of a mountain with that, so dont really see the correlation.

as a newbie, its great that you are thinking ahead and are willing to take advice...saves time and money not reinventing the wheel sometimes, but i would say from personal experience that you can easily go on trips and have fun and still be plenty safe and successful without going thru all of that. but, if you feel better by doing that and will feel more comfortable, then by all means it makes perfect sense. maybe start off weighing and doing spreadsheets and once you get more experience and your comfort level increases, you may no longer feel you need to do that. other than breaking laws, there really isnt a right or wrong way of doing this hobby...
All well and good but I am sure you seen people go overboard very often .. I am going for a long week-end in south Spain but what if a sudden cold comes like the 2012 movie and I don't have the -10 sleeping bag with me ? Hmm 14.2 V at the alternator, perhaps I should carry a spare one... But if the fuel pump dies, that I am really screwed and I should have one of those too. .. you get my point.. :)
 
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We’ve been doing this quite a while and drag a lot of glamping gear with us. Trailer, with RTT, water tanks, kitchen with tap water, chairs, table, day packs, 10 gallons extra fuel, etc etc. at 1400 lbs. Our 80s GVWR, is right at 7,000 lbs and with all the stuff, freezer, fridge, clothing, camera gear, awning, shower, drawers, recovery gear, tool bag, two people, etc etc scales out at 6800 lbs. so ya, at 8400 lbs we’re heavy enough to average 11-12 mpg. The only thing I concern myself with is not exceeding the GVWR, and with a 7,000 lb towing capacity that we are nowhere near, we are good to go, just about anywhere. If I had it all to do over again I might have used lighter materials for my drawer system, but probably not, as the 3/4” plywood I used is actually lighter than the 2nd & 3rd row seats that have been removed. Weight was always in the back of my mind during the build, but when it comes down to dollars & sense, are aluminum bumpers really worth twice as much as steel? No. Aluminum racks over steel? Yes. The Point in all of it? Stay under GVWR and keep your COG down low.. Good luck!
 

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If you are planning a long trip it's also helpful to know if you are an inside person or an outside person, could be one of each for a couple. Before we took our multi-year trip we camped a lot and were definitely outside people. Fortunately we are anal retentive as well so we reached out to lots of experienced Pan-Amers who all insisted we should have an inside space as we were planning a four year trip. Once on the road we realized we were more inside people than we thought so that advice probably saved our trip.

Also, for longer term travel, lack of food or water is what always forced us out of a spectacular location. While more food is manageable when it comes to weight, water...not so much. Walkers comment, while in jest, is much more common in the full time world. We were under weight when we started our trip but by month 6 we were at our GVWR and remained there for the next 6.5 years. Did we drag stuff around we never used, yup. So does everyone else but we all were convinced we'd need it. Just a part of it.
 

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If you're experienced in ultralight back packing, you'll be fine at this. Might just make that another box to check for newbs.

I'll add:
-Understand the law of thirds, and apply it to your fuel stop planning.
-You don't have to unpack and transformer autobot your entire rig at every stop. Especially as others have said, if your stop is in a flood zone.
-winches and snorkels weigh something.
-don't buy stuff because it looks cool and overlandy. (I passed an orange taco that was overlanding two days ago. Nice rack, RTT level with cab top, another rack and tote box on the roof of the cab. Empty bed. Tsk tsk. Lol.)
-3600# cargo capacity is nice.
 

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My advice to the new people at our meet ups is GO! Buy enough to go and see what your pain points are. Then begin to build around those things that would make you want to go less so that you can counteract them and go more. If a backpacker stove heats water great but you are tired of eating hydrated food then find something you can cook the food that makes camping more fun. An 8 man tent might be great inside but if it takes 30 minutes to set up, not so fun. A solo tent might be space saving but if lying alone in a little cocoon during a rain storm spoils your trip then make the change.

The goal is to adventure and explore, so I always lean towards the things that help me want to it more. From there it doesn’t really matter it is all preference and opinion. I have gone to Death Valley with people that were packed like they were going to Zimbabwe, and I’ve gone with a guy who brought a 6 Subway sandwiches and forgot his sleeping bag so he slept in his truck.

Have fun figuring it out :-)
 
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RedDogMaster

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Good advice...for you young rugged no fear individuals!

But as I age, COMFORT is what I seek! Comfort and Security. Recovery gear is pretty dang important to us and having what we require to enjoy our trip!
 
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